Writer: Lewis Colick (Screenplay)
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, Jacinda Barrett, Robert Patrick, Morris Chestnut, Billy Burke
Plot: A firefighter, injured and trapped in a burning building, has flashbacks of his life as he drifts in and out of consciousness. Meanwhile, fellow firefighters led by the Chief attempt to rescue him.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Thought Provoking Action Thriller
Story: Ladder 49 starts as Jack Morrison (Phoenix) is performing a daring tower block fire rescue only for disaster to strike and Jack finds himself trapped inside the burning inferno. This causes Jack to have flack backs to his early firefighting days as a rookie in the 39th under Mike Kennedy (Travolta).
As Jack continues to fade between consciousness we learn about his personal life and how he met and married Linda (Barrett) as well as seeing just how his team became the unit through the good and bad events of being a firefighter, this will give him a chance to believe who could save him.
Thoughts on Ladder 49
Characters/Performance – Jack Morrison is the firefighter that gets trapped in the fire, we get to see his rise from rookie firefighter to one of the most respected in his team, get married and have children but through the events of the film we are left to wonder like himself whether he was right to stay in the force. Captain Mike Kennedy keeps his team united through the good times and the bad, he knows how to motivate them and how to let them celebrate, but he won’t leave a man behind. Linda is the wife of Jack that he meets on one of his first few days on the job, she is concerned after the first death in the squad. The rest of the unit are what you expect, the best friend, the wise one, the confrontational one you know the picture.
Performance wise, Joaquin Phoenix is great in the leading role showing he was ready to make the jump from supporting actor to leading man. Travolta shows that he can turn out good performances around the weaker ones people can slam him for. Jacinda Barrett is good but doesn’t get the full levels you would like to see from the supporting character. The cast all give us good performances throughout the film too.
Story – The story is told as one man is looking back on his life wondering if he made the right decisions in his life when he becomes trapped during the latest fire he is fighting. This does show the stress firefighters would go through from either a good rescue or seeing a friend hurt or killed, dealing with personal life and the peril of going into a blaze with no true idea of what is waiting for them. I like how this is told because it shows how Jack got to where he is in his ranking within the unit.
Action/Thriller – The action sequences are all different types of fires the crew must battle and they are all shot wonderfully to suck us into the story as we don’t know what will happen in each fire. This does help keep us on the edge of our seats at times but we know we don’t need to worry about Jack during the flack backs.
Settings – The settings show us just how dangerous battling fires can be, how the men risk their lives and how they can be different on each occasion.
Final Thoughts – This is a film that will make you respect the firefighters of the world even more because you get to see how much they are willing to risk to save people’s lives. It is shot very well with the only negative being knowing there is only one fire Jack is in any peril through.
Overall: One for all the action thriller fans out there.